"Since we (himself and George Hoyningen-Huene) had to earn our living, we mostly photographed the people we were paid to photograph. If they happened also to be people we personally knew and liked and admired so much the better. But we weren't concerned with the future's potential judgment of our sitters and their way of life. We were simply concerned with recording a part of the contemporary, local, human scene..."
Horst P. Horst was a photographer known best for his fashion advertising and portrait work, though he maintained a strong interest in still-life and landscape photography throughout his career. His elegant, classically inspired, yet thoroughly modern style greatly influenced the genre of fashion photography.
Horst Paul Albert Bohrmann attended philosopher Graf Keyserling's "School of Wisdom". Initially interested in architecture, Horst would enter the Hamburg Kunstgewerbeschule to design furniture. In 1930 he moved to Paris where he worked under architect Le Corbusier. In Paris he met Baron George Hoyningen-Huene, a photographer for French Vogue magazine, who would become a life-long friend and teacher. It was at this time that Horst began to experiment with photography. His first published photo was for French Vogue, appearing in the November 1931 issue. The 1930's were an exciting time for Horst, his work was published and exhibited in both America and France. His circle of influential friends grew to include French aristocrats, and artists such as Jean Cocteau, and fashion designer CoCo Chanel all of whom he photographed.
Electric Beauty dates from 1939, the year in which Europe entered the Second World War. With its backdrop relating to Hieronymus Bosch's Temptation of Saint Anthony, it goes beyond a depiction of the more surreal aspects of the fashion industry to communicate a sense of impending menace.
Horst received American citizenship in 1943, and changed his name to Horst P. Horst. He was drafted and served as a war photographer for the American army. Three years later he published "Patterns from Nature" a collection of plant and flower still lives.
Known for it's dramatic lighting, Untitled, its' classical influences, Untitled, and its' sensual elegance, Untitled, his work in fashion advertising continued to be in demand until his death in 1999. Many of his images such as the Mainbocher Corset, Paris have reached iconic status. Horst (on the Mainbocher image, date of quote unknown) "I had never photographed a corset before. It wasn't easy. The light in the photo is more complex than you think. It looks as though there is only one light source. But there were reflectors and extra spotlights as well. I don't know how I did it. I couldn't repeat it. It was created by emotion."
Throughout his life Horst travelled the world, moved in rarefied circles and photographed the lovely, beautiful, exotic, strange and effusively wealthy. His early career is marked by a controlled in-studio practice, his later career by in-situ photography and experiments with colour. He received an honorary Doctorate from the University of Bradford in 1989.